France is Ready to Lead the Battle Against Climate Change

France is ready to be a leader in hydrogen and must strive to take advantage of its full potential.
Image: France Hydrogène
Insights with
Philippe Boucly
Philippe Boucly

President, France Hydrogène

Hydrogen is a key pillar for France and Europe to meet decarbonisation targets and enhance energy security.

Like other countries worldwide, France has published an ambitious national strategy for the development of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 million tons of CO2 annually in 2030.

Backed by €9 billion from the French government1 one of the strategy’s main aims is to create a competitive hydrogen production sector based on electrolysis. With a goal of 6.5GW of installed electrolyzer capacity by 2030, this will enable France to produce clean hydrogen on a large scale.

Producing clean hydrogen in France

The annual consumption of renewable or lowcarbon hydrogen in France is set to reach between 680,000 and 1,090,000 tons by 2030 in two different scenarios2 to strongly decarbonize industry and heavy-duty transportation sectors and to a lesser degree, the energy sector.

But to achieve ambitious decarbonization targets at the French and European level by 2050, it is vital to apply technological neutrality and to recognize the necessary role of low-carbon hydrogen, especially that produced using nuclear power, alongside renewable hydrogen (issued from solar or wind power and biomass).

With a strong industrial hydrogen sector

An industry is being structured at national scale. As a result, France Hydrogène brings together more than 450 stakeholders active in the field of hydrogen covering the entire value chain, from manufacturing of equipment, production of hydrogen or derivatives, to the main use areas for hydrogen.

French industrial stakeholders with an international dimension and a skilled workforce, as well as companies and start-ups working closely with research centers to develop innovative products and services, demonstrate a strong industrial dynamism.

French companies with the support of the French government invest in the construction of gigafactories to manufacture electrolysers, fuel cells, tanks and vehicles with a twofold objective: both to drive down costs and to make France and the European Union self-sufficient in manufacturing key equipment.

The first ten industrial projects have been launched in France and approved by the European Commission involving public and private investment of €2.1 billion and €3.2 billion respectively – representing the creation of 5,200 direct jobs.

France is ready to be a leader in hydrogen and must strive to take advantage of its full potential. However, the French strategy, as ambitious as it is, will not succeed without cooperation at all levels involving countries across Europe and the rest of the world, between governmental authorities and the private sector, and manufacturers and research centers.

France and Europe must move away from the reliance on fossil fuels faster. The scale and the speed at which this challenge must be met – in a time-frame of less than thirty years – demands a collective response. In particular, hydrogen interconnections between European countries will help drive cooperation in pursuit of our collective decarbonization goals : the French hydrogen industry would support such an initiative as long as it will be used to transport hydrogen, not hydrocarbons. We need to pull all levers and focus all our efforts on a single goal and start viewing varied national strategies as complementing each other in the drive to reach net zero emissions by 2050. All forces must come together to decarbonize European economy by developing all uses of hydrogen, and to make the energy transition an ecological and industrial success. France is ready!

  1. The National Hydrogen Strategy received 7.2 billion euros in funding, along with an additional 1.9 billion euros as part of the France 2030 investment plan.

  2. France Hydrogène conducted a study on the deployment of renewable or low-carbon hydrogen in France by 2030. Given the current and potential hydrogen demand as well as the planned projects, it appears that hydrogen will develop within seven major hydrogen clusters including the main ports, the valleys as well as the transborder areas with Spain and with Germany. These major consumption areas will concentrate nearly 85% of hydrogen demand by 2030. Deployment of hydrogen refueling stations along the main motorways and in urban nodes (TEN-T) will cover the rest of territory.

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